The time is always right to do right—Martin Luther King Jr.
Public policies from federal, state, and local sources have a significant impact on the lives of children and families. Building strong local systems of support requires an understanding of those policies, as well as feedback to the sources of policies as to what’s working, what’s not, and what else is needed.
Advocacy is absolutely essential for advancing and sustaining the early childhood system, securing financial resources necessary for high quality services, and ensuring feedback loops reach decision makers.
In order to bring about community change, it’s crucial that the full range of early childhood system actors engage in some form of policy and advocacy. Sometimes individuals and networks are hesitant, but it’s important to understand that there’s a wide range of activity available and everyone can find a role.
- Get comfortable with “policy” and “advocacy.“
Public policy advocacy is a form of civic engagement, which is any effort to promote the quality of life in your community. Learn more about these concepts and how to put them into practice.
- Learn the issues and encourage others in your network to do the same.
Develop deeper knowledge about the policies that impact young children and their families. Sign up for notifications to stay informed about potential changes to policies (both positive and adverse) and opportunities to inform policy decisions. Get together and talk about what’s happening in your community. Form an advocacy committee. Connect with statewide and national advocacy organizations to join others working on the same issues.
- Take action.
There is a wide range of advocacy activities to choose from. Action can be as simple as talking to others about the issues that matter to them. Action can also include advocating for systems of early learning, collaborating with others, promoting quality improvement to early care and education programs, or helping families make the best choices for their children.
- Build your community voice.
Community engagement involves working with other people and organizations to build the power of your voice and influence. Learn about coalitions or advocacy groups in your area and build strength in numbers.